Cleric Issues Fatwa Against Writers for “Heretical Articles”
International PEN is seriously concerned for the safety of writers Yousef Aba al-Khail and Abdullah bin Bejad Al-Otaibi following a fatwa issued against them on March 9, 2008. There are fears that they are now at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremists, and PEN calls upon the Saudi authorities to provide them with immediate and effective protection.
Leading Wahhabi cleric Sheikh Abdurrahman Al-Baraak issued the fatwa against the two writers in response to two articles published recently in the leading newspaper Al-Riyadh. The articles, "The Other in the Islamic Balance" and "The Islam of the Sharia and the Islam of Struggle," reportedly challenge some Sunni Muslim interpretations of the Koran. Yousef Aba al-Khail’s article is said to argue Islam's tolerance of other religions, particularly Christianity and Judaism, questioning the Sunni view that followers of other faiths should be considered unbelievers. Abdullah bin Bejad al-Otaibi's article reportedly argues that some religious clerics have misused Islam for their own benefit. Sheikh Barrak was quoted by Reuters as saying in his religious edict, "Anyone who claims this has refuted Islam and should be tried in order to take it back. If not, he should be killed as an apostate from the religion of Islam." The fatwa was not covered in Saudi print media but was posted on a number of web sites. Both men stand by their articles. On March 18, 2008, a group of 20 Saudi clerics issued an online statement in support of Sheikh Barrak.
Write A Letter
- expressing fear for the safety of writers Yousef Aba al-Khail and Abdullah bin Bejad Al-Otaibi following a fatwa issued against them on March 9, 2008, calling for them to be tried on charges of apostasy for allegedly "heretical" articles;
- calling on Saudi authorities to provide them with immediate and effective protection.
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Minister of the Interior
His Royal Highness Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz
Ministry of the Interior
P.O.Box 2933, Airport Road
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966 1 403 1185
Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard
His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdullah bin 'Abdul 'Aziz Al-Saud
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